Return to Source page
I’ve just been looking through the website - Prof. Chris Haines put me on to it as
I’m in the 1963 carol singing photo (back row, next to Mike Palmer, with FGS
scarf and holding book). The girl on the left of the picture is the only other
person I remember - Jonquil Ellis, I think, also known as Effie, and very
lovely. It was a lot colder, I seem to remember, than it looked.
Sadly I must have been one of the few who absolutely loathed just about every minute of my time at FGS, with the exception of the CCF, which I thought, under Jo Thomas, was excellent.
I was in the bottom stream throughout, with Prod actually announcing that the bottom stream boys (1U, 2G etc.) were not worth wasting time and effort on.
I left, under a cloud, with two bottom grade ‘O’ levels, having spent the whole of my time there in the bottom of the four classes (1U, 2G etc.) having had no help nor encouragement from any of the staff, who thought, sadly, that we all should have been in the local secondary modern. I got out of Art as Foster was decidedly awful, having had lines just about every time I attended - “The hum of pleasured industry is welcome; unwanted noise and idle chatter is unnecessary and unwelcome” - that I can (more or less) remember them is a daunting thought - if only something useful had as much impact.
Several masters were certainly better than others - Mr. Booys used to give me a lift to my home in Farnham when my parents moved there in my 3rd year and I had to commute; Nat Wiseman was great on the geographical field trip to North Wales, where he gave me a five bob prize for the best drawing of a mountain, and took us to the Cavern in Liverpool, and Tom Pascoe was a gem - hopeless teacher but a good bloke. I even enjoyed the CCF.
The really irritating thing was that, in the right environment, how many more of us would have thrived. I went on to repeat my 5th year at Farnham Grammar, went on to art college at Folkestone and then Manchester; worked as a fashion photographer for Vogue and House & Gardens; shot annual reports in India, Japan, Iraq, Singapore, all over the US and Europe for Sony, R.B.S, Rio Tinto etc. At 25 I was one of the UK’s youngest Senior Lecturers at Napier University in Edinburgh and got a Masters and a PhD as well as a string of fellowships and awards for my photography. Just think what I could have done if they’d been nice!!
We did have a FANTASTIC time with Nat Wiseman in North Wales, in about 1963 (same time as “Walk on by” by Dionne Warwick, which we listened to constantly) and a fantastic visit to the Cavern Club in Liverpool.
Sadly FGS’s biggest fault was that it seemed to only be interested in the clever guys - if you weren’t particularly academic there was little help.
I repeated my 5th year at Farnham Grammar School and they were as good as FGS was bad - I was given a lot of encouragement.
Great web site and well done for creating a forum - whether criticism is encouraged I don't know, but it has to be said - perhaps some of us were late developers.
If anyone sees this who was in the bottom forms from 1960 to 1965, hi!
Andrew Stevens : May 2014
(With additions in February 2015)